Arizona Celebration of Lights

A Drive-Thru Holiday Lights Display

Stars and strings of Christmas lights
Priscila Zambotto / Getty Images

UPDATE: The Arizona Celebration of Lights was held for the last time in 2012.

Find current holiday attractions and activities at the Christmas Holidays Guide for Greater Phoenix, updated in November.

-   -   -   -   -   -

The Arizona Celebration of Lights included more than 7,000,000 lights and 300 animated and still displays. In order to see it, you actually stay in your car and drive through it! The organizers boasted that it was Arizona's largest display of holiday lights, with about 140,000 people passing through the display.

Where was the Arizona Celebration of Lights?

At 99th Avenue and Loop 101 (at Thomas).

What was it about?

You drove for about a mile through five tunnels to see the holiday light show. You stayed in your own car. On Friday through Sunday nights Santa's Village featured activities, food and vendors.

How much was it?

Passenger vehicles: $15 per vehicle Monday through Thursday; $20 per vehicle Friday, Saturday, Sundays and holidays.

My Observations About the Arizona Celebration of Lights, 2011

  1. If you didn't buy a ticket to the Arizona Celebration of Lights in advance online, bring cash to purchase your ticket at the event.
  2. You'll be staying in your vehicle during your entire visit, from ticket purchase through the end of the display. You may bring your own refreshments to enjoy inside your vehicle.
  3. On the busiest nights, you might have about a half hour wait to get into the holiday lights display. I went on a Friday evening at about 7 p.m., and my wait was only about 5 minutes.
  4. The trip through the display takes about 15 minutes. You'll have time to stop long enough to take pictures, so bring your camera.
  5. The promotional materials indicate that the light show is set to music. It was not when I was there. There were instructions to turn on your radio to a faith-based station with holiday music.
  6. Of course, it will be dark outside. Have you practiced taking pictures of holiday lights in the dark?
  7. This holiday lights display is all about the lights, some blinking and some not. There are no mounds of snow, or other decorations. Make sure you go when it is dark, since the area in which you are driving is not especially attractive in the daylight.
  8. As you drive in you are instructed to turn out your headlights. The darker the better! If you have automatic lights, make sure you know how to turn them off before you get there.
  9. It does get cold here in the winter. Even though you'll be inside your car, you might want to make sure everyone is dressed warmly -- you'll probably want to have your windows and sun roofs open for the best views and to hear the music.
  10. Got a flat bed truck? Yes, you can pile in the people and include lawn chairs and coolers!
  11. There are several ways that you can obtain discounts on your Arizona Celebration of Lights tickets, but you can only take advantage of one discount per visit.
  12. Cars will be accepted to enter the Arizona Celebration of Lights route until the stated closing time for that day.
  13. Even if you purchased a discounted ticket, you can still donate canned goods or new toys to help people in need in our community.

- - - - - - - - - -

Tree lightings, holiday lights, festivals, holiday music and entertainment, gift guides and holiday travel tips -- find them all at the Christmas Holidays Guide for Greater Phoenix.

All dates, times, prices and offerings are subject to change without notice.

Was this page helpful?